Working for Stroud District Council
From generous holidays, family-friendly policies and competitive rates of pay to discounted gym membership, our staff have an enviable list of benefits designed with them in mind.
We believe in looking after our employees and we’ve never been more committed to the task.
Our aim is to be the employer of choice in the district, a place where people are proud to work. Here’s a list of the benefits to make life easier and more enjoyable for all of our staff.
As well as an annual leave entitlement of 21 days, which rises to 25 days after five years of service, our staff are entitled to all public and bank holidays (there were 10 in the past year), as well as four additional days when the offices close for Christmas and New Year. That’s 35 or 39 days depending on length of service. In comparison, the current statutory minimum entitlement of 28 days includes public and bank holidays.
For those once-in-a-lifetime trips, we even have a salary sacrifice scheme where staff can purchase additional leave.
As a local government employer, when it comes to pay, most of our salaries are set by national pay negotiations. But because we want to ensure all our staff can maintain a decent standard of living, we have adopted the Living Wage, an hourly rate set independently and updated annually which employers chose to adopt on a voluntary basis.
We also offer financial recognition for outstanding performance and in cases where staff work beyond the remit of their job, as well as payments for unsocial working hours and planned overtime.
At SDC, we know the importance of maintaining a work/life balance and have a range of policies in place to support this. These include:
- enhanced maternity/paternity and adoption pay for employees who have been in post for at least a year at the 15th week before their baby is due or when they are matched with a child for adoption;
- a shared parental leave option, which enables parents to choose how to share the care of their child during the first year of birth or adoption;
- flexible working – as well as our popular flexi-time scheme, staff are able to request a change in their working pattern or arrangements to meet their commitments outside work;
- parental leave – staff with parental responsibilities can take unpaid leave to look after a child;
- time-off for dependants – when care arrangements breakdown or there are sudden domestic emergencies, staff can take unpaid leave.
Here at SDC, we’re lucky to be part of the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS). It’s a ‘defined benefits scheme’ which means the income you receive from your pension is a guaranteed, pre-agreed amount.
This gives employees the security of a secure future income, independent of share prices and stock market fluctuations. It’s also a low-cost scheme giving tax-efficient savings and lower national insurance contributions for most people under state pension age.
The LGPS is now a career average scheme, which means that your pension will be based on an average of your salary across your local government career. People who paid into the LGPS before April 1 2014 will have the benefits they have accrued fully protected.
At a time when most private sector employers (including all FTSE 100 companies) are planning to close their defined benefit schemes in favour of defined contribution schemes, where there is no guarantee of the income employees will get in retirement, the LGPS is still one of the most valuable benefits we can offer as an employer.
The unrivalled benefits offered by LGPS include:
- index-linking, where the pension income is guaranteed to rise each year so that it can keep up with rising prices in the future;
- a lump sum payment received by the employer on retirement based on three times their pensionable pay, plus an annual pension;
- ill health retirement, life cover and survivors’ pensions;
- employees contributing a third in contributions towards their pension, while we as an employer contribute the rest.
Sickness safety net
Nobody wants to get ill, but in case the worst happens it’s reassuring that the council can support you through tough times. Our sickness allowance scheme, which is based on length of service, can provide an employee with up to six months’ full pay and six months’ half pay after five years’ service should they ever need it.
We know that there are times when work is the furthest thing from the mind. We can grant staff up to five days’ additional paid leave for compassionate reasons, including the death or serious illness of a family member.
At SDC, we recognised that childcare can be a big expense. To help with this, we operate a childcare voucher scheme to provide our working parents with an easy way to save on the cost of childcare.
The scheme, offered through Kiddivouchers, sees part of an employee’s salary given up in exchange for vouchers, which are non-taxable and exempt from national insurance contributions.
Suitable for children up to age 15, the vouchers can be used for a wide range of care, from nurseries and child minders through to holiday camps and breakfast clubs. The account can be managed online and paid direct to the childcare provider. The system is flexible as the amounts can vary according to the parents’ needs for childcare.
Have you always dreamed of seeing the world, learning a particular skill or even carrying out voluntary work for a charity or organisation close to your heart? If you work at SDC, you don’t have to give up those dreams. Staff who meet the qualifying criteria can take up to six months’ unpaid leave for travel, study, a personal interest or activity, voluntary work or simply to spend more time with the family.
Learning, development & growth
Starting a new job can be daunting, but we try to make the process as smooth as possible. Each new employee is assigned a “buddy” to help to introduce them to the organisation, and they will have regular one-to-one meetings with their line manager to ensure they have the support they need.
We also care about the ongoing development of our staff, so our induction programme offers a range of information seminars to make sure they feel fully involved.
Our appraisal system also ensures staff are supported and encouraged to develop the knowledge and skills they need.
As well as our corporate induction programme, we provide a range of opportunities for staff to gain professional qualifications. We will also pay for one relevant professional membership for each employee.
For staff wishing to progress into management, we provide access to programmes through the Institute of Leadership & Management, and we currently have two new programmes in the development stages with local colleges.
We also know that coaching and mentoring can make a big difference to an employee’s learning environment, so we offer opportunities for staff to train as mentors to students and apprentices. Employees can also qualify as Institute of Customer Services coaches, and the council belongs to the South West coaching pool, which is a resource open to staff with high potential for personal development.
Sometimes, people want to expand their skill set beyond those used in their usual role and gain an insight into other parts of the organisation. We know that this fresh look at the workplace can help to maintain enthusiasm and job satisfaction, so we provide our employees with secondment opportunities – both within the council and externally.
We are also proud of our innovative apprenticeship scheme, where young people can gain level 2 and 3 apprenticeship qualifications, funded by us, while earning a wage. Our apprentices are each assigned a mentor and can take part in a range of activities to encourage the development of key “employability” skills, which will help them in their search for permanent employment at the end of their apprenticeship, either with us or with another organisation.
A flexible approach
The council is committed to helping staff achieve a healthy work-life balance. Our popular flexi-time scheme allows staff to choose their own start and finish times - with the agreement of their manager - and they can benefit from taking up to a day’s accrued flex leave per month.
There are also opportunities for flexible working patterns, such as part-time and job-share working and compressed hours. Regular and occasional home-working is also offered to allow staff to deal with sudden domestic emergencies, bad weather or for longer term difficulties such as health issues that restrict their ability to get into the office.
We are currently working on a project to look at many other aspects of flexible working, such as mobile working, so that we can achieve the best fit between employees’ aspirations to work flexibly and the council’s business needs.
A healthy workplace
A healthy employee is a happy one, hence we’re proactive in supporting the health and welfare of our staff.
We provide a number of services and facilities including:
- First Care, a 24/7, 365 days a year telephone service which staff can call to report their sickness absence, giving them rapid access to advice and support from a medical professional;
- Our Employee Welfare Scheme, through which staff are entitled to up to five free confidential counselling sessions with an independent counselling service to assist with work and personal difficulties;
- “Working Well” - part of the 2gether Trust has a contract with the council to provide occupational health advice in situations where staff are experiencing health problems that affect their working lives;
- On-site massage– at a cost of £13 for a 20-minute session, staff can make the most of this opportunity to feel relaxed and energised on a monthly basis.
We also encourage staff to take responsibility for their own health and fitness, and we offer many opportunities to help them do this, including:
- encouraging staff to get involved in charity and fundraising events through our charities team
- team-building activities such as dodgeball, football and rounders. So that you can take full advantage of the sports activities on offer, we’ll even give you up to four hours’ paid time per year;
Discounted gym and leisure centre memberships:
- The Fifth Dimension gym (www.fifthdimension.org.uk) is situated next to the council offices and our staff are entitled to a 20% discount on normal peak membership rates. This provides access to all club facilities at all opening times, including its full suite of state-of-the-art weights and aerobic training equipment, functional gym, steam room, showers and changing facilities. Corporate rates for SDC staff are £32 per month (12 month contract) or £37 per month (non-contract)
- SDC staff are also entitled to a 25% discount on full membership at Stratford Park Leisure Centre (www.everyoneactive.com). Members can enjoy the gym, swimming and all group exercise classes for £24.99 per month for a year’s membership or £29.99 per month for a no contract direct debit membership.
“Give as you earn”
We make it easy for SDC staff to donate to charity, either through our payroll giving scheme, where employees can choose to donate a set amount (minimum £5) to a charity of their choice direct from the payroll system, or by having the ‘pence’ in their monthly salary donated directly to the Cotswold Care Hospice through their “Small Change, Big Change” initiative.
A work environment steeped in history
As far as offices go, we have to admit we’re proud of ours. Based in the old Ebley Mill, the main council offices date back to 1820 and are steeped in Stroud’s heritage – serving as a proud reminder of our manufacturing past.
Its canal and riverside location means that it’s not unusual to be joined by ducks, swans and other wildlife during a lunch-time stroll. We are also within ten minutes walk of two supermarkets and other shops, bars and amenities. The recently opened canal-side cafe/wine bar and convenience store are also proving popular with staff. Ebley Mill also has a staff restaurant and free staff parking.
Our satellite sites, including the Museum in the Park, the Subscription Rooms and Dursley Pool are also well respected community resources within the market towns of Stroud and Dursley.
Don't just take our word for it...
We’ve asked our employees what they enjoy about working for Stroud District Council. Here’s what they said:
“We have a real commitment to developing people to help them further their career, which is reflected in our learning events, our innovative apprenticeship and work experience programmes and the encouragement and support given to staff who want to obtain professional qualifications”
“Health & wellbeing is very much on the agenda, with opportunities to get involved in a host of charity events and sports activities”
“The volunteering opportunities we offer make them feel they can make a real difference by taking part in activities that benefit the community and by making improvements to our services”
“They value our commitment to work-life balance, with the range of flexible working opportunities and family-friendly policies”
For further information call the HR Team on 01453 754278 or 01453 754942 or firstname.lastname@example.org